Legislation to require more teaching of tribal history in South Dakota schools failed its first committee hearing in the State Legislature.
Some educators say an effort is already underway to increase the teaching of Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota culture in the state. Those backing the bill say more needs to be done.
The South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp testified against the proposal. But Schopp says she agrees the teaching Native history and culture in South Dakota is important. Schopp made her point before members of the House Education committee this way.
“I wonder how many of you can name the nine tribes by name, and know where they are. You know that is something that even us as adults can't do at this time. So, we want to move this work forward and as a result I want you to look at what we’ve accomplished thus far,” says Schopp.
Schopp says South Dakota schools are working to implement more native history into the curriculum of K-12 schools. She notes a new program called WoLakota that is aiming at addressing part of the issue. But those backing the measure say more needs to be done. State Representative Shawn Bordeaux is a prime sponsor of House Bill 1148.
“This work began I think it was said in 2008. It was approved in 2011. It’s been five years ago. We also heard testimony from our Department of Wducation that there is only one employee in the Office of Indian Education,” says Bordeaux.
Bordeaux says items like the history of the 1868 Treaty, the Dawes Act, and the role of important leaders in each tribe should be taught in schools. Members of the House Education Committee went on to kill the bill by a vote of 10-4. Those voting against the measure say they believe on-going efforts will address the issues.